The Presidents Of The USA - Interview (1996)

Malcolm went to interview Chris (vocals / two-string bassitar) and Jason (no-string drums) of popular beat combo the Presidents of the United States of America just before they played MUSU.

How's the tour going?
Chris: The crowds everywhere are great. We're probably not the kind of band you come to see by accident.
Jason: You either really want to be there, or you just hate us, and wouldn't come anywhere near us, even if your girlfriend wanted you to go. We'll break up, cause I hate those guys.

Any danger of a new album?
C: We're recording in January. It was the cleverest way we could think of to spend a month in Seattle. And we'll play loads of golf.

What started you using guitars with low string quotas?
C: It was Mark Sandman of Morphine who we thank for that - he showed me the two-string way. Live, it's easy to play. You don't have to worry about hitting the wrong notes 'cause you're playing the strings you've got.
J: Somebody invented the four-string six-string thing.
C: Who the hell do they think they are, making that up?

How did you get together?
C: We were at a bar in three different corners, and we just fell in love.

How long have you been going?
J: Two years... with lengthy breaks. Lengthy Breaks - he's our keyboard player, Lengthy McBreaks.
C: Shoddy McWorkmanship, he's our roadie: (affects passable southern Irish accent ) "Aw, set that up later, lad. Come down the pub."

What's your favourite brand of peaches?
J: Fresh peaches. Canned peaches aren't so good.
C: Canned peaches are o.k. We had canned peaches for breakfast in Germany, and they were good. I ate my share of those. They do good scrambled eggs in M√ľnich, too: this hotel, you should go there.
J: Yeah, they were good - all velvety and barely cooked. (Jason mumbles about cholestorol. )

What's a bollweevil?
C: It's a little bug that gets inside your cupboard, and causes trouble. But it's also a metaphor for a friend of mine who justs watches t.v., works on his computer, and never gets outside.

You seem fond of the cover version. What covers do you do live?
J: We have a whole classic rock fragment set.
C: We didn't do 'We're Not Gonna Make It' faithfully, we didn't do 'Kick Out The Jams' faithfully. The only one we do where we do all the lyrics is 'Video Killed the Radio Star.' There's another verse and a chorus to 'Make It.'
J: Is there? No wonder we didn't make it. Actually, that would be really funny - do a six verse seven minute long song. (Chris starts singing the end bit of Hey Jude )

Do you prefer the studio or the live side of things?
C: We've just done the one album, so... but we're really excited to go back to the studio. I've bought an electric piano from the Seventies, and Jason's bought a Jew's harp and a little nose whistle... little sex toy... there's two kinds of bands, one where the album's better than the live, the other where the live's better than the album. I think I'd rather be live better than album, 'cause there's nothing worse than really liking a band and then going to see them and they really suck.

Would you ever consider having your stuff remixed?
C: Someone did a disco remix of Bollweevil.
J: No shit? That'd be great, though. Just give it to some stud like Moby, and go "there you are, disappoint us." (As Jason goes on to reveal his musical snobbery, support band Dag come in after an unusually short set.)
C: Is that it? Get back out there! Are you guys taking a break or something?
DAG: No, we're done. Short and sweet.

What do you want for Christmas?
C: I want a little Leatherman tool and my two front teeth.
J: I want a big DAT player.
C: Dave (three -string guitbass ) is going skiing for Christmas. He wants fresh powder. NOSE POWDER, that is. (Chris passes the dictaphone to Dag. )
DAG: Hello, I... yeah, we've just finished playing here in Manchester, it was great. Short and sweet, y'know... back to you guys. (Applause )
C: Our man in the field there.

Do you think peer pressure plays a role in teenage smoking?
C: Go ahead and not smoke, kids. I've been smoking for years and I hate it.
J: It's hard to give up. I'm trapped in a smoker's body.
C: Imagine having to spend the rest of your life in a smoking prison.

Who's your favourite President?
C: You. Do you want the job?

Then you can't have it. Anyone who wants the job shouldn't get it.

The Presidents were talking to Malcolm, in January 1996 - retroactive baddage.


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